Losing the love for the poor


It's not her fault

It’s not her fault

Last week’s numbers from the Encuesta de Hogares, showing a sharp rise in the number of poor people in Venezuela, is a strong indictment of the chavista economic model.

To take just a single example: 67.4% of Venezuelans qualified as “not poor” in the second semester of 2008, and 67.9% qualify in the second semester of 2013. The number has barely budged. In the last five years, there has not been any progress in poverty abatement in Venezuela – and this is according to official figures.

Sort of puts the argument that “Chávez has helped the poor” into a different light, doesn’t it?

Let’s face it – what has happened in Venezuela in the last fifteen years is that an economic model was put in place whereby extraordinary oil rents were re-distributed recklessly and unsustainably to the poor … for a while. That has now ended, and we are close to the place where we started.

Seriously – when in the course of a single year 1.8 million people went from not being poor to being poor, can you really make the case that chavismo has helped the poor? I mean, seriously chavista apologists, poverty … is a losing issue for you, so … just … shut up.

If poverty is a losing issue for chavistas, it does not automatically make it a winning issue for the opposition. I noticed this in my recent trip to Venezuela.

There is an alarming trend amongst some of my hard-core opposition friends, one that perhaps you have picked up on as well. It has to do with the attitude with regards to the poor.

A few years ago (around 2006 or so), if you asked opposition people if there was anything good about Chávez, they would say that at least he had put the issue of poverty front and center. People would reflect on the forgotten masses left behind by the old regime, and conclude that their newfound empowerment was a good thing, a lesson Chávez had taught us all.

There seemed to be a consensus that tackling poverty was the number one issue both chavistas and non- had to face. Never again, we all seemed to think, should we take poverty for granted.

Now? Well, let’s just say that goodwill towards the poor is harder to find that cooking oil.

Many people I spoke to view “the poor” as being guilty of the mess the country has become. They see the poor as having been empowered, and then turning around and giving that power to a bunch of crooks and nitwits. They go to the store to find basic items missing, and they blame the poor for leading the country toward a disaster just so they could get their hands on a social program or a government job.

The “poor” are the GNB goons hurting our kids, the colectivos terrorizing our neighborhoods. Much of the goodwill toward those less fortunate initially generated by chavismo has been replaced by the class hatred it now constantly preaches.

This is a shame. It has never been clearer – chavismo has used the poor as a political flag without really doing anything substantive to help them. The poor are hurting under Maduro pretty badly.

In light of that, are we going to be the ones to take up the flag of the poor?

For that, we need to stop blaming them for what is happening.

24 thoughts on “Losing the love for the poor

  1. Maintaining class division and hatred is the Chavez formula for its long-term prospects, escualidos. The way forward for a democratic Venezuela will be to overcome class hatred through effective economic help to poor people.

    Reconciliation has to be more than a slogan. If it isn’t, get your children ready for the next caudillo, because he’s already on the way.


  2. After WWII much of europe blamed the Germans for Hitler and the havoc and suffering he created , in part they were right but the germans were also the victims of historical traumas that made Hitler appear as the saviour of german dignity , ultimately they also became the victims of their own folly in following Hitler suffering as much as any other european people if not more from the consequences of Hitlers cruelties and messianic delusions.

    There were people in Europe who wanted to punish germans by permanently destroying their economy and transforming the country into a permanently backward and ruined land . Wiser heads prevailed and the responsible and morally right decision was taken to help raise them up to the status of a free people capable of enjoying the full fruits of a civilized life . History has proven the wisdom of such decision , people can make mistakes , huge ones , under the duress of exceptional conditions but the thing is not to hate them for their follies but to help them improve themselves to a level were they can be trusted to rise up to their best human potential . The worst ravages of poverty are not only those that affect the poors quality of life but their capacity for developing a mature well informed balanced and perceptive political judgement

    Santayana famously wrote that it is the fate of those who dont learn the lessons of history to always repeat its mistakes . People in the opposition should take this lesson to heart.!!


  3. The answer to this conundrum lies in creating a society in which the poor can escape poverty through legitimate, gainful employment. Creating such a society is an achievement that has, so far, been beyond the abilities, or interests, of our politicians, as well as of a substantial chunk of the population. This, of course, raises a whole set of other conundrums, the most significant of which is, where to start, if we ever get another chance: the politicians, education, economic restructuring, institutional reform? The list goes on.


  4. I haven’t perceived this illwill towards the “poor” as a class, at least not in my middle-class-young-professional circles. It would be a shame if the middle class ends up buying (and thus legitimizing) the Chavista rethoric.


  5. It’s kind of hard to feel goodwill when the “poor” (more hateful than poor) keep voting for the same people that keep them there (I could understand it for a few elections, but now? It has been looooong enough for anybody to understand.) . At this juncture, most people that vote red have no hope that the goverment will do something for them, but most of those people still have the hope and desire that the goverment screws the “rich”, “sifrinos”,”burgueses”, etc. Hate and resentment are more powerful than hope for themselves.


  6. Communism rides in on the back of people so blinded by hatred that they can be easily manipulated by demagogues. The chavistas seem to think that the Cuban Model is where they want to be and they will spread endless lies to mask their comical failures. A lie told often enough becomes……?


  7. The study posted by Francisco suggests that govts no one likes (eg The PRI govt in Mexico) kept in power by administering a system combining methodic collective bribes and blackmail which made people wary of attempting to change the govt for fear of losing their bribes or of having to suffer the punishment offered them through the threat of blackmail . On the surface the study is very persuasive .

    However I think that when you introduce the discourse of class hatred and social resentment and the dollop of love for a charismatic leader who identifies totally with you , an added element is added to make people support a govt despite its many flaws and failures .The spaniards had a saying that explained it : “contigo pan y cebolla’ , applied to the love besotted woman who having falling in love with a man that cant provide for her upkeep and who mistreats her ocassionally will remain loyal to him despite everything.

    I suspect that different segments of the chavista base of supporters , to different degrees , may be motivated by both these factors to retain their loyalty for a chavista regime which is in many respects falling to pieces !!

    People dont just vote in line with what they percieve to be their interests but in line with what their conceits and passions (however unworthy) demand of them .

    As life conditions worsen some part the chavista base will start looking for someone else to credibly offer them what they want and need , but another part will remain prisioner to the two factors of loyalty mentioned above . !! (to the extent that the regime can continue to offer at least part of the promised bribes and exert the customry blackmails) .


  8. Being a Chavista as of May 2014 requires, IMHO, an unhealthy amount of hate. I see it all around me, especially at my office: the remaining chavistas have a deep, ingrained hate towards- take your pick- the USA, the burgueses, the adecos… whatever.

    If you have endured a decade and a half of those people running the country, ruining your life, endangering the future of your children, and a long et cetera, well, you start to dislike them.

    But when you realize that they still hate -let us be crudely realistic for a second- YOUR guts, you could get stronger feelings. It is easy to hate recalcitrant haters.


  9. Why should I feel sorry for somebody that hates me and wants to see me ruined? Heck, they deserve everything that is coming their way. That is not hate, it’s a boomerang.


  10. Well put. Neglect and indifference resulted in Hugo Chavez. Anger and resentment will not improve on that result.


  11. Wanley : Helping people born in poverty, who hate your guts , scape poverty has three justifications , whatever sour emotion their hatred inspire in you : .
    1. You do not treat them well because you like them or feel sory for them but out of respect for your own ideals and moral standards which have you rationally want to see human beings improve their condition and scape poverty because you feel thats the right thing to do . ( you trascend the tit to tat game and do what your conscience tells you is right)
    2.- You do it out of self interest , until poverty and its consequences in peoples minds are erradicated youre always at risk that they will drag you down with them every time they fall for the messages of cheap demagogues .
    3.- You feel that the greatest triumph a man can achieve is not to defeat his enemies but to turn them into his friends ( Gneral Gomez was master at this) .

    Am reminded of a real life experience , a friend asked my advice on a situation , he had recieved in property a piece of land from a man who desperately needed a loan and could not be trusted to pay it back , the loan term expired and meantime the land had gone up tremendously in value . My friend thought of just taking the land because the other guy was a crook and in his shoes would have done it without batting an eye , besides legally he could do it . I told him that his standards where not those of the guy but his own , that he should do what his conscience told him was right not wha they other guy would have done in his case . My friend decided to pay the man the difference between the amount of the loan and the land lots increase in price and was very content with his decision . The guy called to thank him for being so decent and said if only people had treated me like you treated me I would have become a better man .

    When general Sucre defeated the Peruvian forces who invaded Ecuador because of a border dispute , he signed a peace treaty that just maintained the borders which Ecuador had always claimed for itself even if it could have extended Ecuadors borders into Peruvian territory . He explained this with the phrase “la justicia de Colombia es la misma en la paz que en la Victoria” . Wish the israelis would had taken this stance after defeating their arab enemies but instead they stood by that very old proberb ‘to the victor go the spoils”.


    • I would have agreed with you until two years ago. Now I think people should pay the consequences of their acts. When people love a politician more than their children they deserve what they get.


      • You appear to be a disciple of that old journalist HL Mencken who once said ¨”In a democracy every people get the government they deserve , and they get it good and hard !!”


        • The people in government posts are the reflection of the society. They did not come from mars. And after 15 years they deserve it. Time to pay the piper.


        • Just like the employees of confiscated companies that were celebrating the theft. And got screwed.


  12. Chavismo and poverty are all about hate. They’ve TAUGHT people to hate.
    All people see in the streets are your clothes,wether you’re red or dead(oppo), if you look like a sifrino or like a pueblo, your accent,etc.

    They’re poor,not huevones and certainly not stupid,and as long as they keep hating and voting,they’re good for the Revolution. That is all they need,and that is all they will ever need, a god that will always point out who’s next on the hate list,this week’s insult and other hateful criminal activities,wich have become the norm here.

    Instead of telling people to stop blaming the poor,you should be telling the poor to stop hating everyone that’s not as dark-skinned,that doesn’t talk like shit or that does not WANT to get in a 6 hour line for milk.

    Because it’s trendy now,it’s cool to do lines,it’s cool to not talk about crime(even if you get fucked up in the street). That’s whats in, the vulgar and the hateful.

    My wife is a manicurist in a rich people salon (they treat workers like shit btw). A rich,chavista customer was telling her that if you don’t like getting robbed,maybe you should move to Miami,,my heart breaks everytime i hear someone show so much ignorance and hate towards this country like that.


    • “A rich,chavista customer was telling her that if you don’t like getting robbed,maybe you should move to Miami,,”


  13. what has happened in Venezuela in the last fifteen years is that an economic model was put in place whereby extraordinary oil rents were re-distributed recklessly and unsustainably to the poor … for a while.

    If that had been done, Venezuela would be much better off. What actually happened was that extraordinary oil rents were spent recklessly on a wide array of projects and programs, some intended to help the poor, most of them serlously wrong-headed, and nearly all of them mismanaged or corrupt. (Did Petrocaribe, CADIVI, or arms purchases do anything for the poor?) In addition, large parts of the economy were subjected to arbitrary confiscation, mismanagement, and looting.

    No rational person could expect this “economic model” to “reduce poverty”.


  14. See the essay“Evaporative Cooling” of Group Beliefs for an explanation of what may be happening with chavismo.

    Short version: “evaporative cooling” is a process whereby the most energetic molecules in a sample fly away, leaving the remaining group colder. With a belief group, some discrediting shock causes members with the greatest independence of mind to depart, leaving the most committed true believers – so the group becomes more fanatical.


  15. Of course they don’t care about the poor now that they don’t need their votes anymore and the democracy was replaced by a dictatorship. Hitler did not care about his popularity among Germans after 1933 either. The poor massing voting for Chávez just showed that they are more materialist than anything else. The irony is that now that the goods have become scarce they might rebel against the government. They won’t be allowed to vote this time, but they will probably express their discontent in other ways from now on.


  16. Internationally the evil hand of poverty has been going on for generations and the true causes always seem to land in the laps of the poor. As no human being has ever had the desire to be poor, poverty just continues to claim more and more victims as life goes on.
    The truth is, the causes of poverty must be acknowledged before solutions can be put into action. The causes of poverty is:-
    1) Bad economical planning.
    2) Greed.
    3) Division.
    4) Pride.
    5) Hate.
    6) Disrespect.
    7) Lack of opportunities.
    8) Racism.
    9) Lack of compassion.
    10) Lack of human resources.
    Any person who blames the poor for being poor and for being a burden to the economical structures, has absolutely no knowledge of what human life is all about. If one has never tasted the bitterness of poverty, then how can one judge its bitter taste.

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